Gajala: The Hero’s Journey

Every hero has a mission to accomplish, conflict to overcome, a journey to take, and a destination to reach. While sometimes the journey is figurative, it can be literal too. For instance, films like The Puff Chair, Into the Wild, Yevade Subramanyam, and Brahmotsavam seamlessly amalgamate the character’s coming-of-age facet with the aspect of traveling, which drives the narrative. These aforementioned films are the epitome of using traveling as a metaphor for the character’s journey, which in other words can be termed THE HERO’S JOURNEY, as observed and proposed by  Otto Rank, a psychologist, Lord Raglan, an anthropologist, and popularized by Joseph Campbell, a literature professor.

Regardless of our lack of acknowledgment, almost every character abides by the concept of the hero’s journey. Here is one such iconic character that you have known, admired, and stanned for years but never quite comprehend or care to study thoroughly. It is Gajala in Sreenu Vytla’s Venky written by Kona Venkat and Gopi Mohan. On the surface, he is plainly comic relief; a great one, undoubtedly. But on the inside, Gajala’s character is a masterclass in writing character arcs, and it’s majorly attributed to the layered writing and the terrific performance by Brahmanandam that brought Gajala to life. So what is the hero’s journey composed of? Well, according to Joseph Campbell, a hero’s journey is as follows:

  • Call to Adventure
  • Supernatural aid
  • Threshold
  • Revelation (which includes death & rebirth)
  • Transformation and
  • Return

Let’s now see how this fits in the case of Gajala.

1. Call to adventure

As Gajala boards Godavari Express in Visakhapatnam to travel to Hyderabad, there begins his adventure.

2. Supernatural aid or mentor

He meets Bokka Subba Rao, who instantly becomes his close aid and stays by his side through the rest of the journey, taking part in his quest to insult Venky.

3. Threshold

This beginning of the transformation phase. Although Venky is arrogant right from the start, Gajala maintains decency and politeness. But over time, he observes Venky’s desperate attempts to woo Sravani, and this acts as a catalyst to the change in his behavior. When Venky claims his utmost respect for elders, Gajala, backed by Bokka, uses Venky’s words as an opportunity to humiliate him and gains high ground.

4. Challenges and Tempations

During this period, Gajala goes overboard with his new-found superiority and keeps taking digs Gajala continues to ridicule Venky for the most part of the journey, questioning the latter’s understanding of software and mocking Venky when he mistakes Scorpio sign to a vehicle. This can be categorized into tempation – the craving for more and more exhibition of superioty. This phase comes to a culmination with Gajala’s arc reaching a high when he ends up in a physical altercation with Venky.

5. Revelation

Then comes the revelation. As a heart-broken Venky seeks to avenge his earlier insult, this is when Gajala’s character graph reaches its zenith, thus bursting the myth of the moral and physical superiority that he . By this point, a clearly overpowered Gajala is left with no other option but to conform to Venky and his friends. He accepts his position and sings along. If you notice, his dominance which has persisted for the most part of the journey is shattered and he is rendered helpless.

6. Atonement

While many of us believed this is where his character ends. What happens next brings closure to his arc. This phase is called atonement – which means accepting, forgiving, and making up for one’s mistakes. As in this case, it is revealed that Gajala wasn’t the CEO of Sonic Solutions as he claimed to be, but in fact, a thief. Symbolically, this makes the entire phase of misfortune and misery, his punishment for his lies. Moreover, he ends up accepting his lies and apologizing for his deeds. But turns out, this was a lie as well.

7. Return

And finally, he is thrashed by the film’s antagonist and he returns to his original state and identity as that of a thief with little to no success.

Akin to Rishi Kumar, the CEO of Origin and a farmer, Joseph Campbell also argues that the hero’s character arc is not a destination, but a journey that’s ought to repeat itself, which means that Gajala will once again receive a call for adventure – and we can’t wait to see more of him.

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P.S.: Hope you enjoyed a lot while reading.

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